Thursday, 10 February 2011
My thoughts and review
I loved reading the first book in the Seeds of America series, Chains so I had been looking forward to the UK release of Forge for a long time. I loved Isobel's determined character that was prepared to challenge the way her life was as a slave in New York and had the courage to run away with her friend Curzon. In Forge, there is a change in narrator to Curzon and although I missed the book being told from Isobel's point of view, I did warm to Curzon's voice too as I liked him in Chains.
At the beginning of the book we find Curzon on his own as Isobel has run away from him to find her little sister Ruth and he suddenly finds himself entangled with the patriots and forced to sign up as a private in the Continental army if he is to hide his true identity as a runaway slave who has been promised his freedom but has no documents to prove it.
This brings complications in itself for a harsh and relentless winter is about to set in and no one is prepared for what lies ahead. Laurie Halse Anderson describes vividly the bitterly cold conditions the 12,000 soldiers had to endure in Valley Forge with no barracks and no continuous supply of food. I enjoyed learning about the different types of foods that they ate to stay alive like firecake (a burnt flour and water mix that tasted of ashes.) Despite this, the men always try to find some humour to lighten the situation and their attempts were very laughable.
Through this ordeal Curzon can't stop himself thinking of Isobel and wondering if he will ever see her again as well as trying to sort out his feelings for her. Whilst I enjoyed all the description about the hardships of army life and Curzon's worries about how Isobel was faring, I felt that it dragged on for far too long (nearly half the book) and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen although I did like the twist at the end of it because I didn't see it coming.
The second half of the book and the ending is much more thrilling and had more of the spirit, adventure and excitement that I loved in Chains coupled with another cliffhanger. That is why Forge lives up to the 'historical thriller' label that Laurie Halse Anderson gives her historical fiction books to make them more appealing to children and teenagers.
The joys and complications of human life is what I think makes Chains and Forge so accessible because Laurie Hale Anderson has created complex and easy to relate to characters who are not afraid to fight for what they believe in. I have grown to love them so that I really care about what happens to them and that is always a sign of fantastic writing.